El Buen Pastor Latino Community Services
Friday, March 24, 2023

Our People

Down on the Farm

Twenty-five El Buen Pastor families enjoyed a variety of fresh produce this summer, thanks to the Farm Fresh Healthy Living Program sponsored by the Wake Forest Translational Science Institute. Kevin and Isaac Oliver of Harmony Ridge Farm provided CSA (community supported agriculture) boxes and hosted the families on a visit to their farm in western Forsyth County. Dr. Sara Quandt’s staff led cooking classes to help the women discover healthy ways of preparing summer’s bounty. And the families loved every bit of it!
Reading for Pleasure
Pablo: It makes me want to read, because it's got couches and a lot of books like a library. It makes me feel good in here.
Edgar:  It makes me happy.  It makes you want to come in every day and read.  The chairs are relaxing.
Pablo:  And you can read in both Spanish and English, because there are both kinds of books here! 

The above is NOT a typical conversation between these fourth-grade boys, however, when they first saw our newly-decorated Family Reading Room, their immediate response was, “Cool! Can we come in and read?” Director of Family Literacy Erika Stewart knew then that the tedious summer project of sorting donated books, dragging furniture around, and testing paint samples had been successful. Designed to be a peaceful place where adults and children come to read together or on their own, the room was painted by one of the padres, a professional painter who worked late into the night, and furnished with shelves purchased from a going-out-of-business sale and items donated to the El Buen Pastor yard sale. Erika and volunteer Jessica McCrory sorted through hundreds of donated books and selected the most appealing ones to go on the shelves, creating a balanced collection of English, Spanish and bilingual titles—classic and current, fiction and nonfiction, all in excellent condition. Come read with us!  




Mariela, who came to the US from Mexico at the age of 14, delivered this speech in both Spanish and English when she graduated from an English as a Second Language program in June. Anyone who has struggled to learn a new language can understand the difficult task she and her classmates faced. Anyone who has raised teenagers (or has been one!) can imagine the self-discipline Mariela has had to muster in order to face her school days. 


Good afternoon my name is Mariela. First of all my classmates and I would like to thank you for joining us this afternoon. As we all know today we take another step in our lives after spending a year in the ESL program to learn a new language and although not everybody did it with pleasure, we did it for a better future, always fighting not wanting to wake up early in the mornings, not wanting to be in school, finally making excuses. We thank God for giving us parents who give us the opportunity to study to improve. Classmates you should take this opportunity to study and work harder and we are sure that this is for our benefit. Also we thank our teachers for the affection and support they have given us, the comprehension, and for helping us with the English which is a difficult language to learn.


Ask a child under seven what is special about EBPLCS and you will hear about Francia. For over five years Francia Cacchione has taught, nurtured and loved the little ones here, and they have loved her back. Although her large colorful classroom with cheerful curtains, a Noah’s Ark mural and a hand-me-down Little Tykes playhouse draws little ones in to play, lots of solid learning takes place there. The four-year-olds in her class learn appropriate classroom behavior and reading-readiness basics to prepare them for kindergarten. Francia’s experience made her the logical choice to serve as the Child Development Supervisor for our new AVANCE program, where children three and younger will benefit from her gentle manner and patience. She says that the key to impacting little ones lies in developing relationships with both the children and their parents. Before coming to the US Franicia taught middle school in her native Dominican Republic, where her adult son Johnny Francis works as a systems engineer. Daughter Jonorys is a student at WSSU, and son Johnny Saulier, a senior at North Forsyth. Her husband Jim is a US Army veteran. Like all true Dominicanas, Francia is an avid baseball fan, and loves music and dance. She recently completed English classes at Forsyth Tech and a computer class, and is preparing to apply for citizenship. This summer Francia led her students in a Fourth of July celebration, complete with water play, watermelon, and learning the symbolism of the stars and stripes on the American flag. 


When Cathie Heck began working with second graders in the LCS tutoring program in 2006, she was particularly worried about Daniela. Although Dani seemed to be bright, she had no interest in reading or homework, preferring to draw, daydream, or go to the water fountain…ANYthing but focus on her studies. Having pretended to be a cat for most of the first grade, Dani had a great imagination, but was working well-below grade level, and Cathie was concerned for her future. Her teachers at Old Town Elementary were concerned about Dani’s low performance and immaturity, too, and when she had not mastered reading by the end of the third grade, she was held back to repeat the grade.  Cathie was determined that Dani would progress: “It was a huge task to get her to put effort into reading. First I tried encouragement and positive reinforcement, and then I moved on to positive harassment.”  Thinking back on that time, Dani said, “When I was younger, writing was really hard for me too. In the summer Ms. Cathie gave me a notebook and every day we worked on writing.
 Fast forward to 2011…Dani is an honor student in the fifth grade, and her third quarter report card included an A in writing! She was selected for the Human Relations award at her school, and just completed her sixth 5K race with the El Buen Pastor/Old Town School chapter of Girls on the Run. Dani sings in choruses at school and church, and LOVES TO READ!

Cathie’s struggle to help Dani has impacted her own life journey, as she is now enrolled in the Master of Education program at UNC-G, studying Curriculum and English as a Second Language. A former college instructor with a Master’s in English Rhetoric, Cathie realizes that learning to read English is an enormous challenge for children whose parents speak Spanish and received minimal schooling themselves, and she wants to do all she can to help such children meet the challenge. 

 Cathie and Daniela aren’t the only ones who have changed in the past five years—Cathie says that Dani’s mother’s involvement was critical to her daughter’s transformation. Through her participation in LCS parenting classes Aure learned how to play a supporting role in Dani’s academics and a leading role in her character development. According to Dani, “My mom makes me be good. She disciplined me when I was younger, but now she doesn’t have to.” When asked what is most difficult about “being good,” Dani didn’t hesitate with her reply. “When people disrespect you it is hard to not show disrespect back. But if you respect them, they will respect you one day.”
Very wise words from a fifth grader.